Contraception and Sexual Health
Looking for advice on contraception and sexual health?
"Where can I get contraception?" "Which method of contraception suits me?" "I'm under 16 – can I get contraception?"
Whatever questions you have about getting and using contraception, this guide can help. It aims to give practical information to everyone who wants to know more about contraception, including teenagers; women in their 20s, 30s and 40s; and anyone with a question about the method they use or are thinking about using.
You can find out about the 15 methods that are available on the NHS, together with where to get them and how to decide which method might work best for you.
To get tested for an STI, you can contact your nearest NHS Sexual Health or GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinic by visiting www.nhs.uk, or you can speak to your local GP or pharmacist.
For detailed information on STIs and how to stay protected, you can visit www.condomessentialwear.co.uk
Alcohol and Drugs
Emergency (after sex) Contraception
If you have unprotected sex you can take emergency contraception to prevent a pregnancy. The emergency contraceptive pill (sometimes called the morning after pill) can be taken up to 72 hours after sex, but is much more effective in the first 24 hours. It is available from clinics, GPs and some pharmacies.
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First Nutrition Trust
We have received some information from First Steps Nutrition Trust. Please refer to the following guides for more details
Eating well for a healthy pregnancy: a practical guide
Eating well in pregnancy: a practical guide to support teeagers
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If you're having mental health problems, you're not alone. One in four of us will have problems with our mental health at some time in our lives.
Mental health hub for young people with advice on depression, anxiety, self-harm, stress, bullying and eating disorders
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Finding out you're pregnant when you're a teenager can be very daunting, particularly if the pregnancy wasn't planned.
If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, there are a wide range of services to support you during pregnancy and after you've had your baby. Your midwife or health visitor can give you details of local services.
Find out the signs of pregnancy and where to get a pregnancy test.
If your pregnancy test is positive, you may experience a lot of emotions:
- excitement about having a child
- worry about telling your parents
- anxiety about pregnancy and childbirth
You should talk through your options and think carefully before you make any decisions about your pregnancy. Read more about your pregnancy choices.
Who offers support for pregnant teenagers?
If you're pregnant and on your own, it's even more important that there are people you can share your feelings with and who can offer you support.
Sorting out problems, whether personal or medical, is often difficult when you are by yourself, and it's better to find someone to talk to than let things get you down. For more information, see coping if you're alone.
The following national organisations can also give you help and advice:
- Worth Talking About – if you think you may be pregnant, you can get confidential advice from the Worth Talking About helpline on 0300 123 2930
- Brook – if you're under 25, you can visit your nearest Brook service for free confidential advice, or use the Ask Brook text and web chat service from Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.
- the national sexual health line offers free confidential information and advice on sexual health, relationships and contraception on 0300 123 7123
In many parts of England, teenagers pregnant with their first child can get extra support from their local Family Nurse Partnership. A specially trained family nurse visits your home regularly from early pregnancy until your child is two. You can get in contact with the scheme yourself, or a professional like your midwife, GP or teacher can refer you.
The Young Woman's Guide to Pregnancy is written especially for women under the age of 20, and includes the real pregnancy experiences of young mums. It is produced by the charity Tommy's and is available free to 16 to 19-year-olds through the Tommy's website.
Can I carry on with my education while I'm pregnant?
If you're pregnant or a mum, you're still expected to go to school until the end of Year 11. If that's not possible, the law says your local authority has to provide alternative education suitable for you.
Your school should not exclude you on the grounds of pregnancy or health and safety issues to do with your pregnancy, and they can't treat you differently because you're pregnant. You will be allowed up to 18 calendar weeks off school before and after the birth.
If you leave school at the end of Year 11, until you're 18 you still have to either:
- stay in full-time education – for example, at college
- start an apprenticeship or traineeship
- work or volunteer (for 20 hours or more a week) while in part-time education or training
The law says colleges, universities or your apprenticeship employer are not allowed to treat you unfairly if you're pregnant or a mum.
Further or higher education
You can only get maternity leave or maternity pay under employment law, which means very few students are able to get them.
If you're a student, you should be able to take maternity-related absence from studying after your baby's been born. How long you take will depend on your own situation and your particular course.
The Equality Challenge Unit has a guide on student pregnancy and maternity (PDF, 345kb), which is written for higher education colleges.
Apprentices can take up to 52 weeks' maternity leave. If you're an apprentice, you may qualify for statutory maternity pay.
Maternity Action has more information about maternity rights for apprentices.
Help with childcare costs
If you're under 20, the Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs. You can apply if you're going to study at school or sixth form college or on another publically funded course in England.
You can't get Care to Learn if you're an apprentice who gets a wage or if you're doing a higher education course at university.
For more information about Care to Learn, call 0800 121 8989 or email Learner Support.
Who can help me find somewhere to live as a pregnant teenager?
Many young mums want to carry on living with their own family until they're ready to move on. If you're unable to live with your family, your local authority may be able to help you with housing.
Some local authorities provide specialised accommodation where young mothers can live independently while getting support and advice from trained workers.
For more information about housing, contact your local authority.
What should I do next?
You may not be sure if you want to go ahead with your pregnancy. You need accurate information so you can talk through your options and think carefully before you make any decisions.
If you're not sure what to do, you can discuss it with a healthcare professional. Whatever your age, you can ask for advice confidentially from:
- your GP or practice nurse
- a contraception or sexual health clinic
- NHS 111 – available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Your decision is your choice, but don't delay or ignore your pregnancy, hoping it will simply go away. Your options are:
- continuing with the pregnancy and keeping the baby
- having an abortion
- continuing with the pregnancy and having the baby adopted
If you decide to continue your pregnancy, the next step is to start your antenatal care.
If you decide not to continue with your pregnancy, you can talk to your GP or visit a sexual health clinic to discuss your options. You'll be referred for an assessment at the clinic or hospital where your abortion will be carried out.
The Family Planning Association has information about your pregnancy choices.
Professionals at your sexual health clinic can also give you information about contraception.
Read more about ending a pregnancy.
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Where to Go
Street Youth Centre
A safe place for young people to go to, where young people can hang out with friends, can be involved in decision making and can find support from a youth worker. There are lots of things to do, from sport, games, computers, music, arts and outings including Laser Quest, swimming, ice skating, Thorpe Park.
Who to contact: 01883 344678
Location: Street Youth Centre, 8 Godstone Road, Caterham, Surrey CR3 6RA